Eastside Revitalization
10:09 am
Thu January 9, 2014

San Antonio One Of Five Cities To Earn Presidential Promise Zone Designation

On Thursday President Barack Obama will announce that San Antonio is one of five promise zones that will receive additional tools to help revive struggling and impoverished neighborhoods.

The other promise zone's are: Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

The announcement by the White House means that the zones will get tax incentives and grants to help places like San Antonio's Eastside build better neighborhoods, residential areas and businesses.

They're places District 2 Councilwoman Ivy Taylor said have been neglected for too long.

"I think a lot of people are to blame but I don't think it's unique in the history of American cities for a certain side of town, especially one that is historically African American, to not get their fair shake," Taylor said. "It's not a unique narrative but I think maybe we're a little bit behind in really addressing it so this gives us an opportunity to move forward."

Taylor will be standing near the president when he makes the announcement that he plans investments of $750 million in the five communities for things like tax incentives.

For years Taylor has been in the thick of addressing poverty issues on her side of town. She and others came up with a plan in 2010 during the East Side Revitalization Summit. Their work gained them the Promise and Choice Neighborhood Grants.

But Jackie Gorman, who leads the nonprofit group San Antonio for Growth on the East Side (SAGE) said the grants didn't come with a lot of money.

The promise zone designation should give San Antonio even more of what it needs to work with to spur development.

Specifically, Gorman is hopeful that the Economic Development Administration will receive funding so new commercial and retail development will come to the area and low-interest loan programs can be expanded to encourage businesses to locate on the Eastside.

"What I'd really like, my dream, is a business accelerator program for veterans because we have so many veterans here in San Antonio and so many of them have the entrepreneurial spirit and they just need a little help," Gorman said. "And I think that that could be something that could really be a catalyst to spark development on the east side, if we're growing and creating new businesses."

Taylor said her goal would be to attract more people to actually live in the area.

"Then we think to a certain extent the retail will follow them," she said.

Taylor said she does not know more specifics about the program and what it will offer, but she is eager to pass the information along as she gets more details.

The city was eligible for this designation because it had previously received the Choice and Promise Neighborhood Grants for redevelopment on the Eastside.

According to a release Thursday morning by Congressman JoaquĆ­n Castro, the five promise zones announced Thursday are part of 20 that will be announced over the next three years.